It’s not a mystery
This is the personal website of writer Terry F. Torrey, the central point of his online life and writings. This website has been around in many forms since about 1999.
Who Is Terry F. Torrey
Terry F. Torrey wakes up every day filled with gratitude at being alive in the best time to be a writer in the history of the world. He works hard every day to write at pulp speed. He produces stories where quirky characters get drawn into murky plots, with a predilection for the absurd and the noir. His classical education in creative writing combined with deep study of character dynamics and narrative structure allows him to create stories that feel structurally sound and deeply satisfying, even when the characters face bleak circumstances and are unable to find satisfaction of their own. He counts Frank Gruber, Robert Heinlein, Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, J.A. Konrath, Barry Eisler, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Dean Wesley Smith among his writing heroes. He endeavors to take maximum advantage of contemporary long-tail publication venues and 21st-century marketing channels to get his books into the hands of a growing legion of fans. He lives in sunny Arizona with his beautiful wife and lovely daughter, and his work can be found online at terryftorrey.com.
When I was a kid, I loved to read, and I was seldom without a book in my hand. At seven, inspired by the Hardy Boys and something strange in my back yard, I started writing a book. I ran out of steam pretty quickly, though. Even with shelves of great examples of pulp writing, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. When I was a teenager, the idea of writing books,and making a living at it came into my head. I started to write Threshold of Vengeance and Paper Cuts. Alas, I still couldn’t figure out how to do it, Also, no one believed I could or wanted me to. I decided that I should have some adventures for writing inspiration, and I joined the Army. That worked.
In my early twenties, fresh out of the Army, I had an idea for a book: The Desert King. This time, starting with a process of developing characters and laying out scene ideas, I actually completed the book. And it was a rollicking success and I became world famous. Just kidding. Nobody cared. By then it was 1990. Publishing was weird and difficult. Some people figured out how to do it, but I wasn’t one of them. I tried to write more books, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that, either. Instead, I worked in hotels and spent a lot of time with unsavory characters.
In my early thirties, I decided to finally get serious about writing. I took almost every creative writing class offered by Phoenix College. Self-publishing was becoming more practical, so I organized my short stories into a book called First Lies to test the water. It was a book, for sure, and a few people bought it. I submitted The Desert King to a small romance publisher trying to branch out, and it turned out they barely knew more than I did about publishing (if they did at all), and they didn’t know how to sell my books, either. When they talked about going back to just publishing romance, I jumped at the chance to get my rights back. For another company, I started writing a serial about a vigilante named Victor Storm, and after the company folded (without paying me), I wrote an origin story for him: Winter Kills. I published Winter Kills and The Desert King, and they were very nice, indeed. E-books were new, and I didn’t like them. I didn’t make enough money for it to matter. I wrote a bunch more short stories, a novelette called Bibliomania, two more books about Jack Trexlor from The Desert King (The Dancing Queen and The Crazy Jack), and I started work on sequel to Winter Kills that turned into a saga.
Time marched on, as it does, and in my early forties I suddenly had a daughter, which seemed to make writing more important. I published all my books and short stories, and some of them got a little traction, but mostly, nobody noticed. Inspired by my first trip to the Phoenix Comicon, I wrote Zombies Versus Comicon, then Vampires Versus Comicon. They didn’t get the attention I thought they would. I developed a political satire series and wrote part of it. I tried to write a tribute book for my dad, but it wasn’t working. I wrote a ficlet novelette called Long Way Home. Along the way, I learned an immense amount about story structure and scene structure, which had oddly never come up except as an impossibility at Phoenix College. And another ten years slipped away.
So then it was time to get serious, to do something different, drastic if necessary. I got a successful writing mentor. I overhauled all my sales copy. I took on a challenge and wrote six new books in a year, five Victor Storm books and the tribute book to my dad. I was ready to re-release everything old, to publish the new and finally hit that 20-book mark, and to keep writing like the wind. Unfortunately, literally seven days after I typed THE END on the last book of the challenge, I had a strange pain in my kidney. After it got worse for two days to the point that I couldn’t sleep, I went to the hospital. It took only a few hours for them to say that my kidneys were fine, but it looked like I had cancer. It took several more months and an unsavory list of unpleasant tests for them to tell me for sure. When the doctor finally told me it was definite, the first words she said about it were: There is no cure. Well. That interrupted my work … for a couple of years.
So here we are, There is still no cure. I’ve wrapped my head around that. Or successfully denied it. Whatever. There is no cure, but I feel good. It’s time to put together everything that I’ve spent a lifetime learning, to write like the wind, to publish like a wizard, and to keep repeating it until something changes.
Welcome to the show.
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